Is there a future for indie feature films?

Most filmmakers aspire to make a feature film. Narrative or Documentary, many filmmakers power through the fundraising, planning, production, mounting costs and headaches to achieve the dream. Making a feature has always been the golden goose, the path to fame and the proof of being a real filmmaker.

But now that serialized TV shows are the norm and Hollywood is consumed by comic book characters and special effects, is there still a place for the indie feature film? Will feature films, so-named because they were once the main course in theaters, still be as important to filmmakers and audiences in ten years time?

We asked two successful DCIFF alumni what they think.

Bronwen Hughes is the director of The Journey is the Destination (screened at DCIFF 2016), Harriet the Spy, Stander and Forces of Nature as well as many TV episodes such as Breaking Bad, 24: Legacy and Motive.

BH: “I think the future of feature film is best thought of in terms of the future of storytelling.  I started in features, and it’s true that a feature was always the Golden Egg of filmed entertainment. But the good news is that those stories can now reach audiences in various formats — with limited series being perhaps the novel-depth version to the feature film’s novella-sized crystallization  The other good news is that a digital platform will result in many, many times more viewers for your story, spanning the globe. For films which achieve a specialty (read: small) theatrical release, this is invaluable. The other truth is that there is nothing to compare with the collective emotional experience of a live audience watching a film. Laughter, tension, and swelling hearts are contagious, and a filmmaker who has experienced that kind of reaction will know how glorious the feeling of touching people. So perhaps the new Golden Egg is to make a film that achieves a festival premiere in a full house of receptive and cine-loving audience, a theatrical release if possible, and then to embrace the reach of digital for the film’s longer life!”

Cameron Fife is the director of Killing Diaz (Screened at DCIFF 2018), The Bellman as well as several TV series, notably Bad Timing. He has produced for both film and TV.

CF: “Most people in the industry know that unless you have a studio backing you, independent feature films have little chance of achieving economic success. The main reason is the distribution models provided by low budget sales agents and distributors, in which they knowingly take advantage of filmmakers and set the films up to fail by cooking the books to make them appear as though they have not made any revenue, when in reality they are just not reporting truthfully in order to keep the profits for themselves. However, filmmakers are catching on, and self-distribution is becoming more and more achievable. Indie filmmakers need to stay crafty and inventive to find ways to tell compelling stories with reasonable budgets that give the films a chance to make their money back. The future of independent film depends on it.”

– From the laptop of Deirdre Evans-Pritchard, Executive Director at DCIFF